Differences in blood and semen oxidative status in fertile and infertile men, and their relationship with sperm quality.Reprod Biomed Online 2012; 25(3):300-6RB
Oxidative stress plays a fundamental role in the aetiology of male infertility by negatively affecting sperm quality and function. Assessment of blood and seminal plasma oxidative profiles might be a valuable tool to improve evaluation of sperm reproductive capacity and functional competence. This study examined the lipid-soluble antioxidant profile and levels of lipid peroxidation both in blood and seminal plasma samples of infertile and fertile males, in relation to semen parameters. Total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and vitamin E concentrations were significantly (P<0.05) lower in seminal plasma of infertile men compared with fertile subjects; concurrently, a significant accumulation of malondialdehyde was found in infertile patients (P=0.032 compared with controls), which was negatively correlated with sperm motility and morphology. In blood samples, infertile men presented lower concentrations of TAC, carotenoids and vitamin E than fertile subjects; TAC and carotenoids were positively correlated with sperm motility, morphology and concentration. Finally, blood TAC and vitamin E concentrations were positively correlated with the corresponding seminal values, confirming the close relationship between blood and semen antioxidants. All these results indicated the possibility of using not only seminal antioxidants but also blood antioxidants as biochemical markers to support sperm quality evaluation. Oxidative stress induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been widely recognized as one of the major causes of male infertility; indeed, excessive ROS production can negatively impact sperm quality and function. The assessment of blood and seminal plasma oxidative profiles has been suggested as a valuable tool to improve the evaluation of sperm reproductive capacity and functional competence in infertile men. With this in mind, in the present study we examined the lipid soluble antioxidant profile (carotenoids and vitamins A and E) and the levels of lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde; MDA) both in blood and seminal plasma samples of infertile and fertile males, in correlation with semen parameters namely motility, morphology and concentration. As a result, we obtained evidence that the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and the concentrations of vitamin E of seminal plasma samples were significantly lower in infertile men than in fertile subjects; at the same time, a significant accumulation of MDA was found in infertile patients. MDA, in turn, negatively correlated with sperm motility and morphology, thus confirming that oxidative damage to lipids impairs sperm quality. In blood samples, infertile men presented lower TAC and lower concentrations of carotenoids and vitamin E than fertile subjects; interestingly, TAC and carotenoid concentrations were positively correlated with sperm motility, morphology, and concentration, confirming the close relationship between blood antioxidants and sperm quality. In conclusion, all these results suggested that the examination of blood and semen oxidative profiles might furnish useful information on sperm quality and function in infertile men.